Pitter Patter Pet Store plea agreement reached so seized animals can be adopted
RAPID CITY, S.D. — A plea agreement has been reached in a case involving a Rapid City pet store where 36 animals were found dead and over 100 animals were seized in August of 2018.
Marinda Parks, 38, the owner of Pitter Patter Pet Store, originally faced 102 counts of violating animal care and treatment, 102 counts of inhumane treatment of an animal, and one count of violating maintenance of places where animals are kept.
The City of Rapid City reduced the charges against Parks in October, dropping them from over 200 to just 55 counts. On Tuesday, the City issued a statement that a plea agreement has been reached so that the animals that were seized can be adopted.
“In order to allow the Humane Society of the Black Hills to find these animals good homes as soon as possible, the City needed to consider a plea agreement,” said Assistant City Attorney Kinsley Groote. “This resolves the case today rather than proceeding to trial and waiting on a potentially lengthy appellate process. It could have drawn on for perhaps another year. It is best for the animals to have finality today.”
Parks was paying $30 a day to have the seized animals taken care of at the Humane Society of the Black Hills, and by November those fees had added up to over $70,000.
The agreement requires Parks to surrender all animals and property involved in the case, with the exception of two personal pets. She also will not be allowed to sell any animals, except livestock, for two years, obtain a city kennel license for five years, or own, operate, be employed by or have an interest in any pet store, commercial animal breeding operation or similar operation for the next two years.
Parks will also plead guilty to three of the counts against her, but the resulting 30 days in jail for each count will be suspended through the terms of the agreement.
Parks originally owned a pet store at the Rushmore Mall, but decided to open Pitter Patter after that business wasn’t doing very well. She was in the process of opening the new location on Mt. Rushmore Road when an anonymous tip to Animal Services led to a welfare check.
Authorities searched the building the next morning, and were immediately struck with a putrid smell. They found dead animals, multiple animals crowded in dirty cages, feces and empty food and water bowls.
“The smell was a big thing,” said Kelsey Harty, an officer with Animal Services and Enforcement of Rapid City. “We did see a couple deceased animals. It was pretty chaotic that morning.”
Friends of Parks argued that the conditions weren’t that bad.
“Each fish is being lined up as animal neglect, animal cruelty, this kind of thing,” said John Gibeau, a friend of Parks. “It’s an animal, it’s important, but it’s a goldfish.”
Kinsley Groote says that ultimately the plea agreement has brought closure to the situation and is in the best interest of the animals.
“At the end of the day, justice was served with the conditions of the plea agreement and settlement agreement,” said Groote.